They called him names
Because they loved me
And wanted me to be ok again;
Wanted me to stop wondering
And asking why;
Wanted me to stop trying to peel back
The layers of my soul
To see what this stain is
That he couldn’t see beyond.
What manner of filth is it
That so covers me
That in his words, ‘I am not worthy?’
What layer of grime so obscures who I am
And what I am – but wait! –
We got here, didn’t we?
Where was the filth and the grime then?
When did the stench
Become so unbearable
That he had to walk away
Muttering good riddance to bad rubbish?
Me, rubbish? Perhaps my ears deceive.
I must have misheard.
Me, between whose legs
He saw the fabled heaven?
Whose touch brought him,
And brought him,
And brought him again
Till in hoarse voice he cried “No more!”
Even as his body begged “Go on!”?
When did I, of all people, become rubbish?
Me, with whom he cried
And from whose breast he drew
Only tenderness, only love;
That special kind of nourishment
Only a grown woman can give a grown man?
Me, who saw him at his weakest
And called him strong –
And by so doing spoke strength into him?
Me, who said to him “Carry on,”
And gave him everything he needed to do so?
Me, who supported him when no one else would;
Who was with him even as he strived for greatness?
Forgive me for saying it, but I made him.
With my arms and my words
And my sweat and my tears
And my heart and my prayers,
I made him.
With my love and my wetness
And my blood and my affection
And my acceptance –
I made him a man among men.
I covered his weakness and
Erased his mistakes and
Together we stepped into fullness:
One and one became an even greater one,
Greater even than the sum of the parts.
I drew up the game plan with which he slew the dragon –
When did I become a burden to him?
A ‘thing’ he needs to get over, let go of,
Speak of no more?
When did that happen?
“Why?” I asked them.
“Stop,” they said. “You’ll never understand.”
Am I not human enough?
Or is it that I am too much of both?
Imperfect, defective, faulty,
And as flawed as he is,
As indeed all of us are?
Why must I be held to a higher standard
Than that to which he holds himself?
Blank slate, he said, as if he himself –
As if anybody – is untainted?
Fresh start, he said,
As if he can ever go back to not knowing?
I said nothing, let him go, watched him
Live a small life and narrow life,
Watched as his dreams disintegrated
And were interred with the ashes
Of what we once shared,
His greatness tempered by lethargy
And a weariness that he could not shake off
No matter what pills he popped
Or what art he made.
He was still great, don’t mistake me,
For greatness was built into him at Creation –
Just not as great as he was,
As he could have been,
If only he’d dared to do the hard thing.
A certain tinge of greyness colours his world,
A miasma reeking of the baser instincts:
Never reaching quite high enough,
Or digging quite deep enough,
Never quite making the mark.
Always searching for that nameless thing
That will satisfy his soul,
Always feeling like he could do more,
Be more, and achieve more.
Always seeking, never finding,
Always needing, always wanting,
Always hungering and thirsting;
Questioning what it’s all for.
Never satisfied, never really happy,
Always yearning and always pursuing
And striving –
We could have risen to dizzy heights
But his soul drew back
When love bade him welcome.
We could have been a great thing
But now we will only ever be
The ‘what if’ thing.
What does it profit a man
To make his mark and have no one
With whom to celebrate the success?
No one who really cares about him,
But only about what he can do, give, and say?
What does it profit a man
To be the best and the greatest
If he is also the saddest and the loneliest
Even when he’s in the crowd
And his ears deaf from the applause?
“Your children,” they said. “That’s why.
You’re damaged goods and they’re reminders of your imperfection.”
What do they mean except that
Just like you I’ve loved and tried to love?
What story do they tell
That is beyond his ability to understand?
Does he know of the responsibility
That comes with raising a life?
Does he know the secret things of God
That make some parents and others not?
Does he know the blessing that comes
With the hard work that goes
Into nurturing life?
Why do you think some beg, borrow and steal,
Make obeisance to the strange-gods
And to the unknown ones
Seeking that favour,
Seeking that which he discards so thoughtlessly when it is offered?
How are they blessed who do not see blessing
– Perhaps it is too well disguised?
Who kick it away from themselves,
As one who without hands when given
A pair of gloves might do?
Who see themselves rather cursed and much-maligned?
What a fool is he who does not recognise
Honour when it is offered to him,
Who rejects glory when it is thrust upon him
And chooses mediocrity instead,
Mistaking it for greatness.
My heart weeps.
Who hasn’t loved and lost?
Who doesn’t carry the scars
And the unhealed wounds of past experience?
Hasn’t been shaped and moulded by it all?
I have walked through the fire
And come out the other side rarefied
And even if I say so myself,
To refined to be loved by those who seek
Only the lowly pleasures
That one body can give another.
I’ve been stretched and pulled and folded
And broken and mended
Until the only man who can love me
Has also walked on those coals
And lived to not only tell the tale
But to walk towards the higher kind of love too.
This love, the high love and the deep love,
The kind of love about which
Books and songs are written,
The kind of love from which sonnets are spoken –
That kind of love only comes
With commitment and dedication
And absolution of self and others –
I thought he was such a man;
He made me believe he was –
But it seems pearls were cast before swine.
They said he was an idiot and a fool.
They called him many names
And unsavoury names,
They said he was weak and a coward
And a tool.
But none of those things were true.
He’s not an a**hole though he straddles
The line between man-sh*t and douchebaggery.
He never knew what we could be,
Never saw the vision I did;
I cannot fault him for that.
He said I was too much for him,
I should have believed him.
He said he wasn’t man enough,
I should have believed him.
No matter the words or the vision
Or the promises or the mirages or the reality,
When people tell you who they are,